First female president for Taiwan with Tsai Ing-wen?

Read few comments.


1. According to polls we have a female politician being a favourite for winning Taiwanese presidential election on Jan 16. If Tsai Ing-wen really wins she will be the first female President. Is this just a coincidence and does this tell us something about Taiwanese society?

2. What do you expect from China-Taiwan relation after the elections, especially if Tsai Ing-wen wins?


Nathan K. H. LiuAssociate Professor, Ming Chuan University

1. This could be just a coincidence, but I think this can also be interpreted as a trend in favor of female politicians in Taiwanese society. Please be reminded that KMT’s first and replaced presidential candidate was also a female. To a certain degree, Asian countries are pretty comfortable with female leaders given what happened in Korea and Myanmar and earlier days in India, the Philippines, and Pakistan. I believe that Taiwan is ready for a female leader too. It seems easier for female leaders to stay away from corruption and abuse of political power.

2. I do not expect to see too much change even if Tsai wins the election, to be honest. The economic interdependence between Taiwan and China is too heavy to be broken and Tsai knows that. In order to answer the appeal of the Taiwan Independence faction, she might suspend some of the cooperation for a while, but will not be long. In the end, continuous connection with China is unstoppable. My guess would be, relation across the Strait might be stalled a little bit, for a couple of months, then goes back to track.

Chia-Shin Lin, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Fo Guang University

1. I would rather view the female president in Taiwan the results of social and democratic development, if Tsai wins the coming election. Firstly, Tsai took the responsibility to be the chairwoman right after the defeat of DPP in 2008 whereas male politicians kept themselves away from this position, because those male politicians expected that DPP will not come back in 20 years. However, Ma administration failed to meet the need of Taiwanese people that paved the way for DPP to immediately bounce back. Tsai became the potential presidential candidate to compete with Ma Ying-jeou in 2012, even though the former Prime Minister Su, who belongs to DPP attempted to run for the nominee. From the social development perspective, it is not because people intentionally seek a female leader but the responsibility that Tsai took to persuade Taiwanese people to accept the idea of a female president. Secondly, Ma administration recklessly seek the possibility of signing free trade agreement with China without meticulously considering the terms and conditions as well as failed to reach consensus among Taiwanese people. Pile on the previous incident of a soldier death, grassroots democratic movement groups earned legitimacy to disagree with the Ma administration. This successfully shaped the image that Ma administration ignoring the public opinion and they still attempted to fix this with already proven useless approaches, hence younger generation or mobile generation tends to support any political idea that is counter KMT. DPP becomes the hope of young people and Tsai receives this benefit.

2. Taiwan-China relation is rarely controlled by Taiwanese government. Precisely speaking, the cross-strait relation is determined by the interplay of China and the U.S. and Taiwanese government can only seek a balance between these two powers. Since Tsai has acquired the approval of the U.S. government and Chinese government has expected that Tsai is the next president, the change of this relation will be constrained within an acceptable span. Some disagreements can be expected at the early stage of Tsai’s presidency, yet these disagreements will be under control.

Teh-Kuang Chang, Professor of Political Science, Ball State University

1. Tsai Ying-wen can be elected  is  based on  the Constitution of the Republic of China . Taiwanese society is no difference with other democratic countries , such as no discrimination of sex in election.

2. The China-Taiwan relations after the 2016 elections will follow the pattern of the current , as Tsai Ying-wen  repeatedly stated that she will keep the status quo relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. Since the Democratic  Progressive Party keeps “ Taiwan Independence ” as the basis of  its  Party , Tsai will not  declare to accept the 1992 common consensus  which KMT and PRC agreed , however   she will accept reluctantly because  she cannot afford to  destroy  the current situation of  stability as peaceful  co-existence between  two  sides  of straits. Thus,  Tsai will follow it, but  SHE will  NOT express publicly.  On the other hand, the PRC will find ways and means for the continuity of stability, such as to keep the development of current procedure with technical  but not basic changes.

John Wanna, Professor, Australian National University

1. Yes it will be the first female president – she nearly won last time but was defeated by Ma.  This time polls suggest she will win.  It will be the second Democratic Progressive party candidate to become president – Chen was the first.  Previously prior to mass democracy most of the presidents were Chiang kai Shek or his son and military leaders.  Taiwan is electing native born politicians (rather than those born over in mainland china who fled to taiwan after the COMMUNIST seizure of power in 1949). The new breed of politicians are well educated, affluent, often from business or academic backgrounds, and the two main parties  are reasonably well-run and instituionalised.  Much of the campaigning is personalised – presidentialism – with large billboards and mass rallies promoting individual candidates.  Women are an increasingly influential power in society, politics, business and cultural life.

2. China-Taiwan relations are very complex, China regards Taiwan as an autonomous region that has been a rogue state.  But it allows it to compete at Olympics, defends its territorial waters and has reasonably good relations and cross tourism.  The DP party is generally in favour of independence and self reliance but with good business relations with China. the old KMT has split with one faction advocating separation and another advoacting much closer political ties to Chain.

Scott Kastner, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland

I expect that if Tsai Ing-wen wins the election, relations between China and Taiwan most likely will remain fairly stable. I expect that Tsai will be cautious in her approach to China, and will most likely avoid actions that would trigger a strong PRC response. On the other hand, relations are likely to cool considerably (when compared to the relative detente we have seen under current President Ma Ying-jeou). In particular, Beijing will most likely find Tsai’s position on sovereignty issues to be unacceptable (Tsai refuses, for instance, to accept that Taiwan is a part of China in principle), and will probably take steps to pressure Tsai’s government on this point (by, for instance, scaling back cross-Strait dialogue, etc.).


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